Residents of Waterbury-LaSalle, Pelham Bay, and the surrounding areas feel that they are getting the shaft by three city agencies in charge of housing development, and will take to the streets to protest a project they say is bad for their neighborhood.
A protest sponsored by a consortium of civic groups from all over Community Board 10 is taking place outside of a worksite at 3030 Middletown Road, a proposed seven-story, 44-unit apartment building, on Saturday, October 18 at noon.
People will take to the streets with signs and placards denouncing the cold shoulder they feel that the Department of Buildings, Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and City Planning Commission are extending to the neighborhood.
“The vacancy problem in the neighborhood is already ridiculous, and now they want to build even more housing,” said Mary Jane Musano of the Waterbury-LaSalle Community Association. “We asked Mayor Michael Bloomberg for downzoning, and got it, but we didn’t know there would be so many loopholes for developers.”
Musano said that developers like Jacob Selechnik, an often-reviled former landlord in the Bronx, who is part of the Westchester-based 2419 LLC which is building the project, reap the benefits of tax breaks.
The growing number of real estate vacancies coupled with already crowded conditions that lead to issues with parking and lack of green space are not even being considered by DOB, HPD, and CPC, Musano said.
“I guess if there are more properties, the city can collect more taxes, and that is the rationale,” Musano said.
“Hopefully, we will get a good crowd for the protest. We want to demonstrate in front of projects like 3030 Middletown Road and others to convince DOB, HPD, CPC, as well as Mayor Bloomberg that they need to listen to the community’s concerns when it comes to what is built.”
HPD spokesman Seth Donlin responded to charges that his agency was remiss in dealing with the misdeeds of Jacob Selechnik, who amassed over 24,000 housing code violations on over 100 properties he owned by 2004, before beginning a massive sell-off his housing stock.
“Selechnik now has only one property registered with us, 2107 Bussing Avenue in the Bronx; all of his other properties were apparently sold,” Donlin said.
As for allegations that Selechnik still owed money for his many past violations, Donlin said this was not true.
“Any monies he owed would have been taken care of when the properties were sold because of liens placed against them,” Donlin stated. “We brought a number of court cases against him, and through our actions he ended up selling his properties and now they are owned by more responsible landlords.”